Sep 20, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Lion
We woke up this morning on the edge of the notorious Columbia Bar, a zone of shifting sands near where the mighty river meets the ocean – a bar which has caused the wreckage of hundreds of ships in history. After such an introduction to the 4th largest river in the United States, we visited the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park at Fort Clatsop near the Lewis and Clark River where the expedition had wintered in 1805-1806. We had a very realistic glimpse into what the expeditioners’ experience would have been like as we visited their cabin in the incessant rain of the coastal temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. Our brief walk into the forest near the Fort introduced us to the towering Sitka spruce, red cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas fir that make the forest canopy.
Later this morning, we were fascinated by the Maritime Museum in Astoria, which informed us in a wonderful way about the history of navigation and map-making and exploration in the region, as well as the fishing history in the region, the shark-fishing and whaling episodes, as well as the role of Astoria as a ship-building part of WWII. Today, the US Coast Guard uses the Astoria area and the Columbia Bar for some of their most rigorous search and rescue training at sea.
This afternoon, we explored Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco, WA and took a lovely walk through a forest laden with rainforest ferns with the occasional banana slug. Down near Waikiki Beach, we learned about the Confluence Project coming to raise awareness about the connection between people and nature. We ended our field visit with a fascinating story at nearby Waikiki Beach about a Hawaiian crew which had sailed and nearly drowned at the Columbia Bar in the 1800s and had later named this beach in commemoration of a brave Hawaiian crew member who was instrumental in saving crew members from certain death.
A group of us also visited the lovely Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge via expedition landing craft cruise to see bald eagles and great blue herons and enjoy the calm waters and lovely late afternoon light for some good photography opportunities. What a fantastic first day! So much more to look forward to this week.
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